Malaria cases on the rise in the UK, visitors to Ghana, Nigeria cited

The cases of malaria are on the rise in the United Kingdom (UK), according to a report by the Press Association, and visitors to Ghana, Nigeria and India have been cited.

It says incidents of the disease have risen by almost a third in two years, citing the latest figures from the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA).

According to the HPA there were 1,761 reports of malaria in the UK in 2010, an increase on the 1,495 in 2009 and 1,370 cases in 2008.

The report indicated that during its research, the HPA found that most of the time – 85% of cases – reports of the disease involved people failing to take the appropriate medication when travelling abroad to see relatives or friends, with some falsely believing the “myth” they are immune to the disease because they have had it before or once lived in the country they are visiting.

The most recent figures show that four out of 10 cases in 2010 were among UK residents who had travelled to Nigeria or Ghana, while 11% of reported cases were among people who had visited India, the report said.

Malaria is endemic in most developing countries, including those in Africa.

The disease is transmitted to humans when an infected Anopheles mosquito bites a person and injects the malaria parasites (sporozoites) into the blood. Sporozoites travel through the bloodstream to the liver, mature, and eventually infect the human red blood cells.

African economies spend as much as $12 billion every year fighting malaria and that is 1.3% of GDP annually in lost productivity.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates there were 243 million cases of malaria in 2008 and that almost a million deaths were caused by the disease.

Preventive measures include improving sanitation and sleeping under Insecticide Treated Nets as well as taking anti-malarial medications before travel to endemic areas

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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